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skoolsukz

Denali Menu Planning

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I have put together a Denali climb this coming June and my last step is putting together a simple menu full of calories. I don't see the point in reinventing the wheel so I was hoping somebody out there could help me out with some ideas, tips on what worked well for them when they were on the mountain, or an example menu to work with. We have no dietary restrictions, we are not gourmet chefs either.

 

PM or email works great. Lancecolley@gmail.com

 

Thanks.

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Lance,

 

I'm also heading to Denali in June. We fly on June 4th and are driving up there before that.

 

For food, I didn't want 21 days of Mountain House. Therefore, I started looking into all sorts of options. Currently I'm trying out meals from Hawk Vittles (http://www.hawkvittles.com) and PackitGourmet (http://www.packitgourmet.com).

 

The meals from Hawk Vittles are actually quite good - although the cook in bag method is bunk. I cook em in a GSI Fairshare Mug. I've currently tried the Linguine with Mushroom Sauce (Needs Spice), Spicy Chicken (Good), Cowboy Pasta (Good) and Bison Stew (Ok). Today I'm trying out the Hashbrown & Sausage breakfast. Excellent stuff.

 

Packit Gourmet is AWESOME. They have some really interesting meals - however, their greatest add is that they sell items in bulk. Like just freeze dried meat, fruit, vegetables, etc. I've bought packets to replace the MSG in ramen and bought individual items (like dried onions, olives, vegetable mix) to add to ramen. Good stuff. They have a breakfast smoothie that I bought but have yet to try - it'd be nice to take some dried fruit, drop it in a smoothie, mix it up and get 400 calories quickly in the morning... COLD.

 

Also, they sell the HORMEL pre-cooked bacon. This stuff is SHELF STABLE (unlike some of the other pre-cooked bacons). And if you can get a few minutes in the cooking pot, you can crisp it up some. Bagels and pre-cooked bacon is going to be a common meal for me on the mountain.

 

Don't forget the spices and olive oil. I've bought a small little plastic bottle with a screw-on lid for olive oil. Considering that it's 250 calories an oz, it's good stuff to add to meals. I've found that all the meals I've tried above benefitted from spice MIXES - like Mrs. Dash. I plan on bringing: a mexican spice mix, an italian spice mix and a generic savory spice mix (like montreal steak mix).

 

Finally, I'm heading over to Cured in Leavenworth to grab some shelf stable salame to take with us. Their stuff is totally awesome and won't get bad up on the mountain.

 

Feel free to contact me directly: caledh@gmail.com

 

We are an independent climb of 6 folks and we have high hopes but know we might just be getting a month long vacation. Ping us - maybe we can wave at each other as we go up and down the hill!

 

Cale Hoopes

Sammamish, WA

Edited by CaleHoopes

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no power bars

yes on snickers and twix and other candy bars...always good when frozen

real butter is real good to add to your food

mrs dash is highly recommended to add to your food too

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Ok Cale, I'm appending my email here for your edification

 

On my previous Alaska trips we were doing long, alpine style routes, climbing for as long as 19 hour days and ripping through 8,000 + calories a day. On Denali the camps are so close together that our longest days were no more than 5 hours, and those were round trips (double carry from 11k to 14k, 14k to 17k.) We planned on 5,000 calories per day but ate no more than 3,000 calories per day and we were eating a lot for entertainment.

 

I make my menus by working from the amount of calories (3k per day) and come up with daily rations based on optimal ratios of fats, carbs, and proteins. I think 3,000 calories is a good number. You may eat more on climbing days and fewer on rest days but it will all balance out. Aim for roughly 25% of calories for breakie, 40-45% of calories for lunch on the move, and 30-35% of calories for dinner.

 

One of my favorite breakfast treats is the 'Mountain Mocha'. Get a bottle of Medaglio D'Oro instant esspresso (I get it at Fred Meyer/Kroger). Mix one spoon full and one packet of instant hot cocoa for a morning cup of coffee that is really good.

 

Bring plenty of other drink mixes: instant hot cider, hot jello, Nunn are my favorites.

 

You will have a lot of down time to cook, so consider bringing foods that take some preparation for below 17k.

 

Consider bringing a light weight aluminum fry pan for making pancakes. Make the mix ahead of time from Bisquick, powered milk and eggs.

 

Butter or margarine in tubs is great for extra calories. On previous trips we even put it in our hot cocoa.

 

For breakfast we took instant oatmeal (with margarine) and granoloa with powdered milk.

 

Lunch was the usual on the go stuff; Cliff bars, candy bars, trail mix, hard salami, cheese. Bagels and peanut butter are great down low, where it is not too cold to spread, although you may need to store the bottle of PB in your sleeping bag at night.

 

Instant rice and instant potatoes are light and starchy and make a great base for dinners. I made a pretty passable rissoto one evening. Freeze dried vegetatables, cheese, and salami added to either make a meal.

 

Instant soups are great to add to your dinner menu. If you have an organic co-op type store (PCC in the Seattle area), they are a great source for tasty, dried soup mixes from the bulk bins. Otherwise packets of soup from the grocery are fine.

 

For your days spent at 17k, consider freeze dried meals that you only have to add hot water to. It is cold and windy and hard to do anything much less make gourmet meals. We each took 5 dinners, plus breakfasts and lunch food. I personally dislike all of the prepacked, freeze dried meals - too much sugar, salt, MSG etc. Experiment with different brands, making a tasting party with your climbing group, to find a brand that you all like.

 

We bought a lot of our non perishable food ahead of time and mailed it to our air taxi service care of our team's name. They were happy to hold onto it. Make sure to give yourself a month or so though. The last non perishible items (salami, cheese, etc) we picked up in Wasilla at Carrs. Traditionally the shuttle service stops here for last minute shopping. This tactic saved a day of shopping in Anchorage, as well as a night in a motel. Something to consider if vacation time is short. Shipping a big box by slow boat was only $20 and well worth saving a vacation day.

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

Edited by DPS

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You welcome. I'm sure folks like Gene and KurtHicks who have spent much more time on the mountain can give more and better advice.

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UPDATE: I just had the Hawk Vittles Hash Browns, Sausage & Egg and its the best camp meal I've ever tried. Fantastic!

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Thanks for all the help! lots of great tips and reminders.

 

Another question if ya'll don't mind! For a three person team do you think a cook shelter like a BD mid is absolutely necessary? or to much extra work? Our tent is a Trango 3

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If yer doing the West Butt. Throw out about half the shit you think you need (half of which will be food) and pack some booze. As for food. To be honest while calories are good having something you will eat that will not 1) taste like shit 2) give you the shits 3) prevent you from taking a shit is far more important. Especially if it involves liquid. A meal of soup, mash potatoes, noodles, dried meat, and candy bar with some tea can do far more than than some gourmet meal with 2000 calories that does one of the 3 above.

 

As for the more practical advise on tents - take two. Multiple reasons. One person can be in one tent and cook for all when the weather is crap. Second if one person is not up to moving up the other two can move up leaving the other behind with a shelter. Finally if a storm blows one tent into shreds ya got another tent for all.

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We got the Trangos too Skoolsukz. When do you fly on? (or at least scheduled).

 

Scared -> Yep, some booze is a good idea. A little flask with 151 or schnapps or somethin...

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Think about some real food for 1) the day you land, 2) the first camp, and 3) possibly at your cache at the airstrip. You won't be carrying that around much. We did a couple days of fresh food - steak, veggies, tortellinis - and that keeps your energy level high. Orages and bananas are great for hydration and replacement of electrolytes in the opening day or two. These foods are not practical to carry for your overall menu, but gobbling them for a couple of days will ensure good nutrition and less burn-out on freeze dried up high.

 

Err on bringing a little too much - you can always cache it. It's easy to work very hard for a couple of days. Depleting yourself every day for 2 - 3 weeks will hurt your performance, ability to stay warm, and chances for success. I'm a little gal, and I put away 4,000 calories every day.

 

Brown sugar, spices help perk up the food. Be sure that you have adequate magnesium, calcium, sodium to avoid cramps and get those muscles firing well.

 

Two tents low - one tent at high camp.

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Thanks for all the help! lots of great tips and reminders.

 

Another question if ya'll don't mind! For a three person team do you think a con ok shelter like a BD mid is absolutely necessary? or to much extra work? Our tent is a Trango 3

Not neccessary since you have a nice big vestibule, but very, very nice to have. Also, a Bakepacker is nice to have. I think it was Gene who suggested taking Boboli pizza crusts and adding sauce (you can get packets of dehydrated spagetti sauce at the grocery - just make it with less water) shredded mozzarella, and pepperoni for a nice pizza. You will have a lot of rest/acclimatiazation days and cooking nice meals is a good way of passing the time and good food is a morale booster.

 

Butterscotch schnapps added to hot cocoa is pretty awesome.

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Booze, cigs or other recreational substances can also likely be used as currency if you have extra.

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Booze, cigs or other recreational substances can also likely be used as currency if you have extra.

On the Ruth their was a party of Swedes (maybe Swiss) with entire cases of Vodka on other hard alcohol. They said taxes were so high in there country that it was comparatively cheaper in the US.

Edited by DPS

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Awesome thoughts!

Cale, Our scheduled fly in is the 10th.

Pretty sure we'll run into each other. otherwise i'll just follow my nose towards delicious smells of sizzling hashbrowns and sausage.

 

 

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Seriously consider packing a pressure cooker -- yes, it's heavy, but on a long trip like Denali, it will save more than its weight in fuel, and will enable the use of items like real rice, raw beans, lentils, etc in your menu. The pressure cooker was the centerpiece of my food planning for my two Denali trips.

 

Listen to the guys who are talking bacon and butter. On a trip this long, you want REAL FOOD. I carried a canned ham on both trips, and was more than glad to have it! Ham & eggs for breakfast on the more relaxed days... At 14000' on the Cassin Ridge in 1981 I found two guys from Colorado frying up canadian bacon in a CAST IRON SKILLET!! They summitted two days behind us, demonstrating that pretty much anything goes...

 

Get some input from the climbing rangers up there -- these guys do a couple of West Buttress patrols each season, so you can bet they've got the act dialed. Roger Robinson usually carried a big batch of homemade fudge from his wife...

 

I note the suggestion that booze is currency. Actually, almost any FRESH food will probably qualify. I found myself very popular at the "Denali City Clinic" when the docs discovered I was making split-pea & ham soup from scratch in that pressure cooker -- and they were willing to trade the steak & crab that was being air-dropped to them - made for great pot-lucks!

 

Speaking of which - DO do the pot-luck scene if you're on the West Butt - that international social scene is 90% of the fun of being there! I'll NEVER forget Peter Habeler's "hot chocolate stand" on the Kahiltna glacier in 1982 -- After getting his clients settled into their camp, Peter took a stove and a bag of hot chocolate mix and set himself up right on the ski-track, serving hot chocolate to every person who passed by "because nobody ever really drinks enough up here"

 

Cook and eat "outside the box" and you'll have an utterly amazing trip!

 

And about tents - the pros build igloos. Again, listen to & watch the climbing rangers. Igloos are warmer than tents, do not disintegrate in storms, and are raven-proof food caches. Tents on those big glaciers are for cheechakos.

 

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And about tents - the pros build igloos. Again, listen to & watch the climbing rangers. Igloos are warmer than tents, do not disintegrate in storms, and are raven-proof food caches. Tents on those big glaciers are for cheechakos.

I did not see a single igloo on the West Butt. The guide services all used tents (Trango 2 almost exclusively), and the rangers (Meg Perdue et. al.) used tents as well. I'm not denying igloos are great, just never saw one.

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DPS- I'll take your word for it. Not a single igloo, huh? Must be making those tents a helluva lot stouter these days. And I must be getting certifiably OLD...

 

so OK, igloo & pressure-cooker will identify you as an "old fart" - but you'll be comfortable...

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Not a single igloo, huh?

 

Maybe I didn't see any because they were the same color as the snow :grin:

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